October 8, 2018

A completely redeveloped core and 12 specialized areas of study

Colleagues meet around a table.Our new MPH degree offers a well-built foundation and all the tools students need for success.

In fall 2019, the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health will roll out 12 new Master of Public Health (MPH) concentrations – or specialized areas of study – as one degree.

How, in a School with broad-ranging strengths and a history of strong department-based degrees, could we select concentrations that meet workforce needs while continuing to offer variety and depth?

In short, we practiced what we preach – good data collection and collaboration. Faculty from across the Gillings School worked with students and alumni to propose our new specialized areas of study. We spoke with employers to determine what they look for in Gillings School graduates. We reviewed the literature to identify best practices in teaching and learning, delved into critical writings on the future of higher education, jobs and MPH training. After selecting concentrations that best leverage our strengths and meet workforce needs, we incorporated new criteria, competency-based learning opportunities, and the practicum and integrated learning experiences established by the Council on Education in Public Health (CEPH).

Our team-based, integrated core training offers MPH students a world-class foundation in public health practice.This fall, we begin to see the fruits of our labor – 2018- 2019 is a transition year during which students are still completing their traditional, department-based degrees. Yet, this fall, we also launched our new 12-credit integrated “core,” or training in foundational public health knowledge, and we are now in the process of fully developing the remainder of the 42-credit MPH curriculum that will prepare students for 21st-century jobs. Specifically, we will roll out all 12 new concentrations for MPH students in the fall 2019 incoming cohort.

Public health practitioners must span disciplinary boundaries, work with many kinds of people and work effectively in teams. They may work locally and globally, and may change focus during their careers. The new Gillings MPH fully addresses each of these individual and workforce needs. Our team-based, integrated, core training offers MPH students a world-class foundation in public health practice.

For example, this fall, student teams are working on one of five major issues – obesity, vector-borne diseases, maternal mortality and morbidity, substance use disorders or air pollution. In working through these public health challenges – and other conceptual and skills-based content in the MPH core – students also will attain many cross-cutting skills, including cultural competence, data visualization and communications. Through their chosen concentration, students will investigate more deeply an area about which they are passionate, and may develop more subject-centered competencies. Through nine elective credits, they will expand knowledge in their concentration area or gain knowledge and skill in another, related area.

The final result is an innovative, flexible curriculum that gives our students skills and knowledge they need to succeed. We are excited to begin this next part of our journey!

—Dr. Laura Linnan, Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs

This chart lists the first six MPH concentrations.This chart lists the second six MPH concentrations.The MPH is comprised of 42 total credits.MPH components include the MPH Core, concentration courses, an integrated learning experience, an applied practicum and electives.

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Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. To view previous issues, please visit sph.unc.edu/cph.